Dressing up brides is my dream job

EMILY Plunkett has always loved weddings.

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Emily set up her boutique after an uninspiring shopping trip with a friend                 Pictures: Christian Cooksey
Emily set up her boutique after an uninspiring shopping trip with a friend Pictures: Christian Cooksey

"I have mine all planned on the Pinterest website already," she says, although she adds she is not engaged yet.

"And I have dreamed of wedding dresses probably for the last 10 years".

Even so, it took an uninspiring bridal shopping trip with her newly-engaged best friend to spur her on to leave her job and open a bridal boutique in Ayr.

Emily was so disappointed with the selection of dresses on offer and the stuffy and staid atmosphere in traditional bridal shops, that she hatched a plan to offer something different for Scottish brides.

"There was a lightbulb moment," she says. "It was pretty much an instant decision. I have never been so sure of something in my life.

"I knew I could offer something different and 'being different' quickly became the mantra of the boutique.

"I had worked behind the scenes in the travel industry most of my career so it was a bit of a change, but I had experience of websites, sales, marketing and budgeting so the business side of things did not really faze me."

She has a love for fashion and weddings, so once she made the decision to open the boutique, she never looked back.

"I started searching high and low for the best designers, using the finest fabrics and offering the most elegant and stylish gowns," she says.

"I visited all the designers to make sure our ideas and brands suited each other and hand selected each gown I stock for its uniqueness and quality."

She opened the doors to her boutique in Ayr, called Unbridaled, last September with a launch party that doubled up as her 30th birthday party.

She is passionate about the dresses she stocks and the customers she serves. Design, quality and uniqueness are all key brand values.

However, convincing wedding dress designers of her vision was more difficult than she had anticipated.

"Bridal designers are notoriously protective of their brand and are very particular over who stocks them and the other brands they are alongside," she says.

"I chose designers that were not available anywhere else in Scotland, that used top quality fabrics, were not factory mass produced in China, had a vintage feel about them and that, ultimately, I just got on well with.

"I went to London and Barcelona to meet the designers and choose the dresses I thought would complement the boutique."

The brands she stocks include Odatuy, which produces handmade bohemian wedding dresses in Barcelona; slinky gowns inspired by Hollywood glamour from Belle & Bunty; and quirky short wedding dresses by the British designer Tobi Hannah.

Emily says those who want dresses from her boutique are the "modern and original bride. She wants to break the mould of what society perceives a bride to be."

She adds: "She wants to feel elegant, sophisticated and stylish on her wedding day and will wear a dress that allows her individuality to shine through."

As well as the range of beautiful dresses on offer, Emily thinks one of the main draws of her boutique is the relaxed atmosphere.

She says: "I like to think we are the opposite of the majority of other bridal boutiques out there.

"For example, people can feel free to take photos while at their appointment, they don't need to wear gloves to touch the gowns, they can try on as many as they like - and children and men are welcome at the appointment.

"We give two hours of undivided attention so people never feel rushed. If they need to come at night due to work commitments, then that is fine. There is no pressure sales and everyone can have wine or refreshments whether they buy or not."

This relaxed approach is reflected in the decor, with a light and airy space featuring floating driftwood railings, handpicked from the shore at Prestwick, which are used to display the dresses.

Emily hopes to expand to offer a range of stylish bridesmaid dress options, but for now her focus is firmly on "spreading the word that there is something new for Scottish brides.

She says: "There are so many brides wearing dresses they do not feel comfortable in because they do not realise there is an alternative.

"I want to make sure that every girl who comes through the door gets a fun and memorable wedding dress experience and whether they find the one or not are glad they made the trip."

l Unbridaled, 2 Somerset Road, Ayr. www.unbridaledboutique.com


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